Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Fairy Tale Examinations #3: Sleeping Beauty

(Not sure what this is all about? Check out the first Fairy Tale Examination)

Sleeping Beauty
(Little Briar Rose)

This is one of my favorite Disney movies. I especially love the Biblical references within it (i.e., the armor of God). Still, as is probably the case with any fairy tale, there are some parts of Grimm's version that cause raised eyebrows.

When a frog tells the queen she'll have a daughter, she is thrilled.

Oh, right. This is the fairy tale world...frogs talk.

The princess is born, and the king throws a feast, inviting friends, family, and "wise women." There are 13 Wise Women, but he has only 12 golden plates.

So, naturally, he leaves one out. Of course Wise Women will only eat off golden plates.

The Wise Women give the princess gifts. The shunned Wise Woman shows up and, out of spite, declares that the daughter will die at 15 from a spindle prick.

I have a lot of "why?" reactions to this. Why was she so angry? Revengeful anger doesn't strike me as "wise." Why age 15? Is there significance here? Why a spindle?

Seriously...why a spindle?

Doesn't look like a weapon to me...

The remaining Wise Woman used her gift to change "death" to "100 years of sleep."

That's the best you can do? I realize that she couldn't reverse it, but...why not 1 week? 100 hours? 100 years is a long time.

Every spindle is burned, the princess is loved, and so on, until she is 15, comes across a spindle, touches it, and falls asleep on the bed. The rest of the kingdom also falls asleep.

There's a bed right by the spindle. How convenient. Also, I don't recall the entire kingdom being a part of the 100 years of sleep...thing.

A hedge of thorns grows around the kingdom. Princes come from all over to free the princess, but they get caught in the thorns and die.

Yikes! And all because they heard there was a beautiful princess. Were princesses scarce in those days?

100 years pass, and yet another prince tries to pass through--and this one succeeds.

If 100 years have passed...shouldn't everyone already be awake?

He kisses her, she and the rest of the town wake up, and it's as if no time has passed at all.

But...it has. 100 years of it. How are they not all dead? Or, at least, old and wrinkly. Oh, I forgot. Fairy tale. Suspension of disbelief and all that.

The marriage is celebrated "with all splendour." 

Depending how you want to look at it, the princess is either 15 or 115 years old at this point. I'm guessing the prince is in his twenties. So, he's either too old or too young for her. Just saying.

I'd comment about how they hardly know each other, but since that's such a common theme in fairy tales I'm afraid that would get repetitive. Still...they hardly know each other.

"They lived contented to the end of their days."

Okay, no snarky comments for this one. I actually really love this ending, and just wanted to point out that it's not (exactly) the usual "happily ever after" one. I'd rather be content than happy.

What fairy tales do you find...odd?


  1. *giggle* I LOVED THIS ONE JANSIINA!!!!!I love the story of Sleeping Beauty and yeah it does raise a lot of eyebrows.


  2. Oh, you didn't finish it! "Part 2" is where it really gets weird - the prince's mom turns ogre and tries to eat her grandchildren!

    I actually have my theories about the "kiss strange sleeping girl and marry her immediately" part ... mostly involving her cousin from another fairy tale ...

  3. Jessica--Thank you! :)

    Kendra--Oh my goodness, really? The version I read ended there...I think I'm glad it did. ;)

    Ooh...this is intriguing me. You should elaborate in a blog post sometime. :D (Unless you have already and I missed it...?

  4. Yes. Honestly - that's how it ends in Andrew Lang's Blue Fairy Book.

    Uhhh ... I'll probably never actually spell out those theories in a blog post ... since it would give away most of the plot of my published book - Sew, it's a Quest.

  5. Ahh. I have to read those colorful fairy books sometimes. I'm using the Grimm versions for these, since I'm familiar with them.

    Oh! A book is even better. :D *Adds it to her 'to read' list*

  6. You could try visiting this site: http://www.mythfolklore.net/andrewlang/indextitle.htm It has all of the Fairy Tales in Lang's books - they're where I get the text for most of my fairy tale commentaries.

  7. You could try visiting this site: http://www.mythfolklore.net/andrewlang/indextitle.htm It has all of the Fairy Tales in Lang's books - they're where I get the text for most of my fairy tale commentaries.


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